At last the year 2014 is upon us! 2013 was a busy year for console hardware with three new consoles joining 2012’s Wii U on the market. Last year should have been the year that Nintendo built a nice healthy lead to cushion themselves from their competitors highly anticipated hardware releases, but Nintendo decided to handicap themselves. Trying to join in the party in 2013 was the OUYA, also known as “The Little Console that Could (not)”. This week I will take a look at the 2013 performance of the four mentioned consoles and give my opinion on what will happen in the upcoming year.
First up is the smallest, in terms of form factor and market share, the OUYA. The OUYA was foisted upon the public on June 25th, and it has only gone downhill from there. Sales figures for the OUYA have not been made publicly available but all signs point to them being even more disappointing than the Wii U’s numbers. Although the OUYA has only been on the market for six months, it is in desperate need of a hardware update to have a chance at relevance. The Tegra 3 processor that the OUYA launched with was weaker than what other Android devices launched with earlier in the year. Keeping current with smartphone technology is nearly impossible because it is in a boom period, each new smartphone CPU seems to have at least double the power that its predecessor had. These factors, along with others, seem to have pushed the OUYA into a corner, and it does not appear that it has a hope to fight its way out. Last year was tough on the OUYA, but chances are that 2014 will not be any easier.
I will jump from the smallest console to the monstrosity that is the Xbox One. The Xbone had a bit of a crazy year that culminated with the second most successful console launch ever. The successful launch, although not unexpected, was a bit surprising given the console’s high price and the confusion surrounding what features the Xbone actually included. Although it is extremely early, the Xbone’s launch strongly reminds me of the Wii U’s launch last year. When the Wii U came out last November, it was gobbled up by the faithful Nintendo fans but sales fell off sharply in the middle of December and did not recover until later this year. According to numbers from VGChartz, the Xbone leaped off the shelf for the first few weeks before it dropped behind the PS4 and Wii U for the week of December 21st. Retail employees have also claimed that the many Xbox Ones have been returned with people opting to exchange for a PS4 after experiencing what the “all-in-one” console had to offer.
Nintendo came into 2013 with all engines blazing, they had just released the Wii U and they expected the good sales from the launch to keep rolling in. Instead, the Wii U’s sales figures became a bit of a running joke as each month seemed to be a new low. Nintendo brushed off the low sale figures for the year by saying that their goal was to sell the Wii U during the holidays, and their actions made it seem like they were not bullshitting. Nintendo’s goal to sell consoles became a reality when the Wii U sold nearly a million units from Thanksgiving to the end of the year. Of course, the best thing about Nintendo going into 2014 is that we do not have to deal with the fucking horrible “Year of Luigi” shit anymore (#FuckLuigi).
Last, but not least, we have the PlayStation 4, the console that holds the distinction of having the most successful launch ever. The PS4, unlike the Xbone, has carried kept the success going through the holidays as it outsold all other consoles not named 3DS. Retailers have had little trouble keeping the Xbone stocked, but gamers wanting to buy a PS4 either have to wait or pay a premium on Ebay. Even the PS4’s mediocre launch catalog has not slowed down the sales. Although this could be because the PS4’s launch titles were only mediocre, not mediocre and designed to gouge consumers of their every penny like the Xbone’s catalog. While Sony has not been perfect along the way, they have leveraged their strong showing at E3 into a historic console launch.
It would seem that Sony has all the momentum going into 2014, but I would guess that Nintendo had a similar feeling at the end of 2012. Sony has it easy as long as they refrain from making any moronic business decisions. Nintendo failed to do much with their year head start, but I think they may finally be getting their shit together. Microsoft looks to have the most difficulty facing them, partly because of their weaker hardware. The Xbone’s hardware deficiencies will become more apparent if companies develop their multi-platform titles for the PS4 and then downgrade for the Xbone, something that is a possibility if the PS4 continues to outsell the Xbone at the rate it currently is. As for the OUYA, I would not be surprised if it disappeared altogether by June.
Last year was a huge year in gaming because of the new hardware released to the market. This year will be all about the big three companies competing to be top dog. My hope is that we are treated to a competition that pits the PlayStation 4 against the Wii U for the top spot this generation. A competition like that would be fantastic as the Wii U and the Playstation 4 do not have a giant overlap in games released, and both companies have a track record of producing console exclusives that are good. I think that twelve months from now we will be discussing how 2014 helped solidify the expectations for the rest of the eight generation. What did you think of the holiday showings from the big three? Do you think that 2014 will be a decisive year for this generation? Leave your opinions below!